What a blast to teach at the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute (CLBI) in Camrose, Alberta. And what a privilege to kick off a new school year with a class focused on spiritual disciplines.
I love their format for this course. I got to fly in last week and start the class with 2 days of introduction in which we listened to God in a variety of ways. Adele Calhoun’s Handbook on Spiritual Disciplines is their text and in it she describes 75 different spiritual disciplines that people all over the world are practicing. So we tried out about 10 of them together and beautiful things started to happen before our eyes. My 60 students got their feet wet in listening to God and for some of them that was a new experience:
When you led us in prayer I immediately began to cry.
It lifted my spirit and I felt peace…
I have never felt God so close like that. It was intimate. It was like God was standing right there in front of me. I opened my arms to him and let go of everything.
It surprised me…that I could sit and relax on Jesus’ lap. I’m not used to this.
I’ve never heard God’s voice like that before.
Each student prayerfully chose 2 spiritual disciplines they are now practicing daily for the next month till I return to finish the class. I’ve never had a file quite like this on my computer – a list of first names and two disciplines that they are committed to practice for a month. It’s inspiring. Here are some of the spiritual disciplines they are engaging in: breath prayer & self-care/pilgrimage & bible study/ visio divina & listening prayer/confession & solitude/Examen & worship/contemplation & journaling/detachment & memorization.
To see the variety of options (75 different spiritual disciplines) and the unique way that each student is approaching this challenge is reminding me of the creative and generous nature of God. Our Loving Creator knows the languages of our hearts. He knows what makes each one come alive. Even in the first hours of practicing these disciplines and making space for God some very meaningful reflections are emerging;
I felt great peace…my burdens were lifted off me…the more I slowly read the Scripture, the more it spoke into my life…I became free to delight in God and let him delight in me…I was comforted…I was able to rest in God’s presence…I felt peace bringing everything to God. My problems have not mysteriously disappeared. They are still there, but they no longer have ultimate power over me.
60 young adults making space for God, daring to believe that what Jesus spoke is actually true – my sheep hear my voice.